Written By: Stephanie Rosenberg
Email: [email protected]
One of the first questions many of my clients ask me is “What is the difference between Disney’s levels of resorts?” The second is usually, “How do I know which resort level is right for me?”
The second question is one that is personal to each individual/family. It depends on budget, how many people are in your party, and what you are looking for in a resort. Are you looking to spend the least amount of money? Are you simply looking for a place to lay your head at night and take a shower? Are you looking for a resort full of amenities and luxuries? Or are you looking for something in between? While each individual resort has its own style, amenities and pros and cons, I will outline some of the major differences between each Walt Disney World Resort Tier.
The hotel rooms at these resorts are often the least expensive to book (with the exception of the family suites found at Art of Animation and All Star-Music which could cost more than a moderate and sometimes the same as a room at a deluxe resort). They are often kid friendly and have the most Disney theming. They host lots of color and large icons. They also have the smallest rooms and bathrooms. Most value resort rooms are about 260 square feet and only sleep 4 guests. They will allow you to add a “guest of mickey,” which is a child under 3 in a crib to make a 5th guest. Refurbished rooms in this category now have two queen sized beds (one permanent bed and one pull down murphy bed), while rooms that have not been refurbished still contain two double beds. Family suites in this category are larger than 500 square feet and have 2 bathrooms, a fabulous perk to many families. These resorts are also some of the largest on property. They also all have larger than life theming making them very popular for families with little kids. Each value resort has at least one pool (no water-slide) and food court style dining. Value resorts do not have table service restaurants. Also, with the exception of the family suites, all rooms open to the outdoors (there are no interior hotel hallways). Many of the value resorts use only busses as a form of transportation to and from the parks. However, this September, the Disney Skyliner will make its debut and guests staying at Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts will be able to use this alternate mode of transportation to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
*Art of Animation Suites and All-Star Music Suites can accommodate up to 6 guests and have 2 full bathrooms.
Art of Animation
These are your middle of the road resorts. The pricing varies widely and can range from slightly more than a value room, to just as expensive as deluxe rooms. They offer slightly larger rooms and more amenities than the value resorts but less than the deluxe resorts. Just as there was an exception within the value category, there is also one in the moderate as well. Disney’s Coronodo Springs Resort, is branded a moderate resort but has the amenities of a deluxe hotel. It is the home to a conference center and caters to many business travelers. Moderate resort rooms are all approximately 314 square feet. Their bathrooms have 2 sinks (as opposed to 1 in the value resorts). Each room has 2 queen size beds and some rooms have the option for a true 5th sleeper (Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans Riverside, Fort Wildernesss Cabins (6), and Coronado Springs). Executive suites at Coronado Springs can sleep up to 8 guests and The Cabins at Fort Wilderness can sleep up to 6 guests. Some of the “upgrades” you can find at a moderate resort are water slides at the pools and hot tubs for guests to relax in and enjoy. Each moderate resort also houses a table service restaurant in addition to food-court style dining. In addition, moderate resorts have at least one indoor bar or lounge. At most moderate resorts, like value resorts, the rooms open to the outdoors rather than indoor hallways. Once again, Coronado Springs Resort is the exception with the new Gran Destino Tower which opened this summer. The Gran Destino Tower also offers an option for concierge rooms that include a continental breakfast and other food and beverage offerings to those staying in concierge level rooms at specified times during the day and night (much like at deluxe resorts). Like, many of the value resorts, most moderate resorts utilize bus transportation. However, starting in September 2019, the Disney Skyliner will have its hub located at Disney’s Caribbean Resort, allowing guest of this resort to breeze through the sky to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach
Disney’s Coronado Springs
Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside
Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins
Deluxe resorts are the highest end resorts. These resorts house multiple room types based on view as well as standard rooms versus concierge level rooms. The most inexpensive rooms at these resorts are often standard view rooms and offer views of parking lots and rooftops. There are garden view rooms, and water/pool/lagoon views. At a few of the resorts there are theme park views. The “better” the view is considered, the more expensive the room is per night. These resorts also offer suites for larger families or for those just wanting the extra space. Deluxe resorts hold multiple table service restaurants, bars/lounges, as well as poolside food and beverage options. They also host room service options throughout the day. (Value and Moderate resorts allow pizza delivery at night). Deluxe resorts also offer gyms for those who like to work out, and many have salons/spas. Most of these resorts also offer greater accessibility to the theme parks. The Polynesian, The Contemporary, and The Grand Floridian are all on the monorail line. This allows for easy access between these resorts as well as to The Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The Boardwalk and The Beach and Yacht Club Resorts offer the ability to walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios (for those who don’t want to do extra walking there is the Friendship Boat that can transport you as well). You can take a ferry boat from the Wilderness Lodge and The Grand Floridian to the Magic Kingdom. It should be noted that The Animal Kingdom Lodge only has bus service to each of the different theme parks. These resorts also hotel style accommodations where each room opens up into an indoor corridor. However, The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian and The Contemporary all host multiple buildings. There are multiple pools at each deluxe resort as well. Each deluxe resort has a quiet pool in addition to a themed pool that has a water slide. Stormalong Bay (shared between Disney’s Beach and Yacht Clubs) even offers a sand bottom, a lazy river, and sandbars.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Deluxe Villa Resorts
Deluxe Villas are all Disney Vacation Club properties, but you do not need to be a DVC member to book a stay at these resort villas. You can pay to stay at these properties just as you would any other Disney resort. These accommodations come with a kitchenette or full kitchen which can be important to some travelers. Most resort rooms have a minifridge and villas offer kitchenettes or kitchens fully stocked with everything you would need to cook a meal of your choice (you need to provide your own food). Most of the Deluxe Villa resorts are linked to a corresponding Disney Deluxe Resort and you can use all the amenities of that resort, but there are a few stand-alone properties such as Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa and Disney’s Old Key West Resort. The Deluxe villas include several room types as well as various views. Most villa resorts have studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom grand villas. The Polynesian Villas & Bungalows have studios (with a 2nd bathroom) and bungalows that are over the water with their own private plunge pool. Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has an option for a treehouse villa which is different and brings its own theming to the table. These villas are fabulous for larger groups who want to all stay together in one accommodation.
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas -Jambo House (has concierge level rooms)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas-Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s Boardwalk Villas
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
*Disney’s Riviera Resort-opening December 2019
I have personally stayed at many of these resorts and continue to take educational trips to try new resorts and tour various rooms within each resort. This allows me to help my clients choose which resort is best suited for their family from personal experience. Remember, every room at Walt Disney World is a GREAT room, because you are at DISNEY!
If you would like me to help you plan your family’s next Walt Disney World Vacation please email me at [email protected] or call me at 347-886-4339. You can also follow me on Facebook, @pixiedustvacationplannersstephanie.